Rivals Roundtable: Recruit predictions, hot teams, Memphis
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald discuss which remaining 2020 five-star’s recruitment is the toughest to call. Also, which program’s strong finish to the season has impressed and how nervous should Memphis be now that the NCAA is going after them?
2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. Of the top four remaining 2020 prospects who have yet to make their decision -- Jalen Green, Ziaire Williams, Greg Brown and Josh Christopher -- who has the toughest recruitment to get a read on? How do you see it ending up?
Bossi: There are still lots of moving parts for every single one of these guys but I’m going to go with Greg Brown here. Just when it seemed like his recruitment was kind of clearing up, it got muddied again. At hometown Texas, Shaka Smart has seemingly gone from the hot seat to the toast of the town thanks to the Longhorns' winning streak and at Memphis there are now NCAA questions. Auburn seems to be primed for a big close to the 2020 class and Kentucky, well it's Kentucky and you can’t ever count the Wildcats out. I had been hearing a lot about Memphis up until the last week but I’m not sure what to think at this point. However, I don’t think Texas' strong finish is doing anything but helping their chances.
Evans: Man, you could probably go with anyone but Josh Christopher. There are a variety of layers and a whole lot to play out within the recruitments of Jalen Green, Ziaire Williams and Greg Brown, but none possess more what-if factors than Green. Many believe that he is a done-deal for Auburn. I don't presume to think that I know more about the five-star's recruitment than everyone else but I am fairly certain that things are more wide open than they appear. Better yet, I am going to stick by my prediction of Memphis. Fresno State, Oregon and USC are also involved, and the chance of playing professionally is also on the table, which is why, when you consider each option, Green is by far the hardest to read.
McDonald: They have all certainly have some level of mystery surrounding their recruitments. I’ll go with Ziaire Williams here though. He seems to be the one that gives the fewest hints about where he could be going next year. Just look at his FutureCast and you see it is split between Arizona and USC, but Stanford is still a player here as well. I’d predict USC as of today, but I don’t have a ton of confidence in that pick.
2. Which program's play over the last month or so has impressed you the most?
Bossi: After losing at home to Baylor on January 11, Kansas has run off a string of 15-straight wins to reclaim at least a share of the Big 12 Championship after the Jayhawks' 14-year streak of titles was snapped last season by Kansas State and Texas Tech. Given that college hoops has been so wildly unpredictable this year, that type of consistency in a power conference is pretty impressive. Big man Udoka Azubuike and point guard Devon Dotson are potential All-Americans and guard Marcus Garrett is arguably the best defensive player in the land. Win or lose at Texas Tech this weekend, Bill Self and the Jayhawks appear to be locked into a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament at this point.
Evans: UCLA has done some special things and BYU, thanks to the return of a healthy Yoeli Childs, has torn up the WCC, but give me another so-called mid-major, the Dayton Flyers. I am the first to say that I didn’t see this coming with Anthony Grant. He has done some phenomenal things in his return to the college game and has brought some of the NBA schemes that he learned on the sidelines in Oklahoma City to accentuate the talents of his team, particularly potential National Player of the Year Obi Toppin. The Flyers are on the cusp of the first-ever 18-0 record in Atlantic 10 play thanks to their very efficient offense, a more than capable secondary guy in Jalen Crutcher and a cupboard full of tremendous role players such as Ibi Watson and Trey Landers. An impressive month of February might just lead to an even more impressive March that could equate to a Final Four run.
McDonald: Up until this week’s loss at home to Tennessee, Kentucky had been playing really well for a while. The three-headed monster backcourt of Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley has been really good, while Nick Richards has been tough inside. I still believe the Wildcats will make a run in the NCAA Tournament, but as it seems with a lot of John Calipari’s teams at Kentucky, perimeter shooting can be a challenge for this group.
3. The NCAA is going after Memphis over James Wiseman, what should the concern level be for the Tigers?
Bossi: Since the beginning of time, the fanbase of every program under investigation by the NCAA has felt they are being unfairly singled out while others are allowed to skate. Sometimes it looks true. In this case, though, Memphis openly defied the NCAA and virtually flipped them the bird by playing James Wiseman after the Tigers were told not to play him. Then when they did take him off the floor he decided he’d had enough and bounced to prepare for the pros. Who knows when we’ll learn the extent of any penalties that could be levied against the Tigers and it really doesn’t matter. Because at the moment they don’t have anybody committed from the 2020 class and there’s little doubt that the NCAA issues are being used against them in their pursuit of five-stars Jalen Green and Greg Brown who many have felt they are leading for up until now.
Evans: Honestly, all things are on the table. Could a Level 1 infraction be handed down to Penny Hardaway or a show-cause hit the former NBA All-Star? This is uncharted territory because this will be the first case that the Independent Accountability Resolution Process will oversee which will not allow for an appeal to be heard. Compared to a program like Kansas that is currently fighting against the allegations levied against them, the Tigers are at the mercy of the newly formed board. Memphis went for it by playing Wiseman. Now the Tigers might miss the NCAA Tournament and also be hit by severe penalties. It is a total guessing game for what restrictions they will see but, in the end, they shot their shot and missed.
McDonald: Actions speak louder than words, but it does seem like the NCAA is going to be more aggressive handing out punishments to programs in violation of its rules going forward after the FBI scandal. The fact Memphis decided to play Wiseman in defiance of the NCAA should probably make Tigers fans nervous. I’d imagine that could go the same way it goes for alleged law breakers who disobey what a judge says in court and that’s never a happy ending.